Genome of Phaeocystis globosa virus PgV-16T highlights the common ancestry of the largest known DNA viruses infecting eukaryotes.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 25; 110(26):10800-5.PN
Large dsDNA viruses are involved in the population control of many globally distributed species of eukaryotic phytoplankton and have a prominent role in bloom termination. The genus Phaeocystis (Haptophyta, Prymnesiophyceae) includes several high-biomass-forming phytoplankton species, such as Phaeocystis globosa, the blooms of which occur mostly in the coastal zone of the North Atlantic and the North Sea. Here, we report the 459,984-bp-long genome sequence of P. globosa virus strain PgV-16T, encoding 434 proteins and eight tRNAs and, thus, the largest fully sequenced genome to date among viruses infecting algae. Surprisingly, PgV-16T exhibits no phylogenetic affinity with other viruses infecting microalgae (e.g., phycodnaviruses), including those infecting Emiliania huxleyi, another ubiquitous bloom-forming haptophyte. Rather, PgV-16T belongs to an emerging clade (the Megaviridae) clustering the viruses endowed with the largest known genomes, including Megavirus, Mimivirus (both infecting acanthamoeba), and a virus infecting the marine microflagellate grazer Cafeteria roenbergensis. Seventy-five percent of the best matches of PgV-16T-predicted proteins correspond to two viruses [Organic Lake phycodnavirus (OLPV)1 and OLPV2] from a hypersaline lake in Antarctica (Organic Lake), the hosts of which are unknown. As for OLPVs and other Megaviridae, the PgV-16T sequence data revealed the presence of a virophage-like genome. However, no virophage particle was detected in infected P. globosa cultures. The presence of many genes found only in Megaviridae in its genome and the presence of an associated virophage strongly suggest that PgV-16T shares a common ancestry with the largest known dsDNA viruses, the host range of which already encompasses the earliest diverging branches of domain Eukarya.